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Q and A: How To Create A Garden For Your Community

May 12th, 2013

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What is a community garden? A community garden is a space where community members are able to grow anything from fruits and vegetables to flowers on a plot of shared land. A church, school, business, or private landowner can donate a piece of land – but the space continues to thrive as a community garden by a variety of share holders.

What can I expect? Typically, you’ll find designated garden plots, usually measuring about 3′ x 20′ that are made available to individuals and families in the neighborhood. The gardener is responsible for supplying the plants, seeds, and soil amendments. However, you don’t have to worry about manually watering your plants each week, as drip irrigation systems are normally installed to supply water to the plants.

What is the cost? Expect the cost to be based on the bed size, as well as a reimbursement water fee to the property owner – usually around $15.00 per month for each plot. This money also pays for the irrigation equipment, a monthly newsletter in some cases, as well as a set of tools made available.

How can I create a garden for my community?

Step 1: The first step is initiating a planning committee. As a group, determine if there is a real need for a community garden, and whom the garden will serve. As you move forward, you will also need to make a list of what needs to be done, and designate roles to each member.

Step 2: The planning committee or sponsor will need to choose a site. The land should get at least 6 full hours of sunlight, pass soil tests, and be clear of contamination. You may also need to consider if irrigation is available.

Step 3: The next step is developing the site. The community garden site should be cleaned up and organized. This includes selecting work crews, choosing plot sizes, creating a storage area, and deciding whether organic gardening practices will be used.

Step 4: Organize the garden details. The planning committee should decide the large and tiny details behind the community garden. At the very least, these questions should be answered:

* What are the conditions of membership?

* How will plots be assigned?

* How will the money be used?

* How large should each plot be? Should there be various sizes to choose from?

* Will there be a plot for children?

* What happens if the plot becomes vandalized?

* What will the community vs. committee members be responsible for?

* Will there be garden meetings? How often?

* Will the garden members share tools or supply their own?

* What kind of maintenance will the garden need daily, weekly, monthly and seasonally?

Step 5: Choose some general rules and bylaws for the garden. Bad gardeners and angry neighbors are the two most common reasons community gardens lead to frustration. Choose each rule and bylaw carefully so that there are understood procedures, and consequences to actions within the garden. To get some ideas, read these sample community garden rules.

**Friends, have you considered utilizing or starting your own community garden within your neighborhood? 

Resources:

http://www.communitygardensoftucson.org/main/

http://www.communitygarden.org/learn/starting-a-community-garden.php

About Us:

Humble Seed specializes in premium garden seed kits that are packaged and themed for convenience and ease. We are dedicated to providing the highest quality heirloom, non-GMO, non-hybrid, and organic seed varieties to those who choose to start from seed.

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Saving Heirloom Seeds 101

May 9th, 2013

winebox

For many, preserving an heirloom seed in its original genetic makeup is important.

Why?

When we think of the word “extinction,” a head of lettuce normally doesn’t pop up in our minds. It’s also obvious that our grocery stores aren’t full of endangered fruits and vegetables either. But think about the prize-winning heirloom beets you boasted last spring, or your grandfather’s special heirloom tomatoes you remember eating every summer. If these heirloom seeds are not saved, the legacy of these plants will eventually die out.

Furthermore, preserving heirlooms creates diversity, making some gardeners feel it’s their responsibly to save these seeds so that genetic variation doesn’t become extinct. If you decide to save your heirloom seeds this year, there are some important ideas to learn and put into practice to ensure success.

How To Preserve The Genetic Makeup

Ensuring an heirloom variety doesn’t accidently change its genetic makeup is a top priority. Luckily, there are some simple practices that can help limit genetic loss. One is to ensure heirloom plants do not cross-pollinate with other varieties. The easiest way to avoid this is to separate varieties a fair distance away from one another. It’s a good idea to research each plant to ensure the distance is far enough away. For example, lettuce may only require separating it 25 feet, while some pepper varieties are considered a safe distance when distancing them at least 500 feet.

Other gardeners prefer time isolation, caging, bagging, and even individually hand pollinating - these are all techniques that can help avoid accidental cross-pollination. Keep in mind that while these practices take time and thought, if two varieties cross – their genes are permanently mixed.

How To Harvest Heirloom Seeds

When you’re ready to harvest, specifically select seeds from the plants that grew quickly and with vigor.  A common mistake is to choose seeds randomly, and from mediocre plants. One major rule of thumb? Never save seeds from malformed fruit, or a fruit that has been damaged by insects, mold, or disease. Plants should be strong, healthy and not exposed to stressful conditions when early seed formation begins.

Removing any diseased plants away from potential seed saving plants will increase the viability of the plant and its seed. Diseased plants can also spread pathogens to otherwise healthy plants, and can affect the success of succeeding generations as well. During seed formation, be sure to provide the plant with sufficient moisture at flower time – this will promote pollen development and flower set.

Furthermore, learning how to properly harvest seeds from a variety of plants can ensure you’re getting the most from each plant. We look forward to sharing how to properly clean, dry, and preserve your heirloom seeds in a future post.

Friends, which heirloom varieties are you growing this year?

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How To Grow and Use Beets For Beginners

April 29th, 2013

Researchers at Barts and The London School of Medicine have discovered that drinking just 500 ml of beet juice a day can significantly reduce blood pressure. Those that suffer from cardiovascular disease, or would like to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease are advised to include beet juice in their diet (see our juice recipe below).

Yet, even if you’re not so interested in the health benefits, and more interested in how to make a delicious meal with beets (like this vibrant beet ravioli)- it might prove useful if you know how to effectively grow them in your garden. Our dual purpose beets produce striking dark red leaves that can enhance salads or a sautéed greens dish. When sliced, roots offer an attractive candy-striped color to pasta, salads, soups, or mixed roasted vegetables.

Spring is the perfect time to begin growing beets. Our heirloom and organic Bull’s Blood Beet can be found in the Veggin’ Out and Producer seed kits. If you’re new at this, check out our beet growing tips below.

Growing details:

*Soil temperature: 70-85 degrees F.

*Days to maturity: 45-60 days

*Sun and water: full sun/partial shade with moderate watering.

Starting inside: Sow seeds 3-4 inches in flats, a cold frame, an indoor seed bed, or in 1-1 ½” plug trays 4-6 weeks before transplanting outside. Transplant outdoors 12-18” apart in rows 18-34” apart.

Starting outside: Sow 3-4 seeds 12” apart, ½” deep, and in rows 24-36” apart. Thinning is necessary, as there is a chance you will get more than one seedling out of each seed. Thin when they are about 2 inches high by pinching them off. Be cautious not to pull them out of the ground, as this may disturb the roots growing nearby.

Seed maintenance: Adding mulch or organic compost will only help these plants to thrive. Providing moderate water (and being careful not to overwater), and offering opportunities for full sun and partial shade will also make beets an excellent long-season crop.

Harvest tips: When 2” or greater, dig or pull roots. Attractive roots are best harvested when young, and the greens can be harvested at any time. Leave fall crop in ground until needed or when soil begins to freeze.

Seed saving: Beets are biennials that must be dug, stored, and then replanted in order to produce seed crops in climates with freezing weather temperatures.

How to make beet juice?
Never drink beet juice by itself. Beet juice should always be mixed with apple juice
and/or other vegetables.

Beet Juice
1/3 bowl beet juice
1/3 bowl carrot juice
¼ bowl cucumber juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Blend all ingredients together then serve with 1 tablespoon of yogurt, as a topping.
Note: Never drink pure beet juice by itself. Drinking pure beet juice can temporarily
paralyze your vocal chords, cause hives, increase your heart rate, and/or cause chills
or a fever.

***Friends – are you starting beets in your garden this season? What other root vegetables are you growing?

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From Sprouts To Sprouts: Introducing The Garden To Babies

April 7th, 2013

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The snow is melting and the sun is shining – spring is here and you’re in the kitchen preparing a fresh salad for dinner with the windows wide open. A cool wind breezes through as you chop your garden fresh leaf lettuce, cucumbers, and carrots, slice a few Washington Cherry Tomatoes in half, and drizzle on your favorite herb vinaigrette. As the family sits down to eat, you reach for a jar of baby food in the cabinet.

What’s wrong with this scenario?

Providing the proper nutrients is vital for a baby’s growth and development – so why rely on jarred food with ingredients including overcooked vegetables, unfiltered water, preservatives and additives? This is why more parents are harvesting food for the entire family – babies included! Doing so can guarantee baby food with organic and non-GMO fruits and vegetables, and without ingredients like choline bitartrate, gelatin, and alpha tocopheryl acetate (our motto is to avoid ingredients our grandmothers never heard of).

How to incorporate the garden

You don’t have to be an Earth mother to strive for garden fresh fruits and vegetables for your children. Once you get the hang of it – many parents enjoy the process of using the garden to feed the entire family. If you’re new to gardening, we recommend devoting your time to planting a few favorite fruits and vegetables, and supplementing using store bought organic produce in the beginning. Many new gardeners prefer growing carrots, green beans and summer squash to start, as these veggies are easy for beginners.  As you grow more confident, continue planting other fruits and vegetables you think your baby will enjoy.

If you’re interested in learning how to squeeze baby food making into an already jam-packed schedule, momadvise.com has some worthwhile tips on how to do it (like making a large batch on the weekends, and using water instead of breast milk so it won’t spoil as easily).

Deciding which fruits and veggies to grow

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to which foods to introduce first to your baby. In fact, experts say, “There is no evidence that the introduction of any sequence of foods is better than any other,” said Dr. Jatinder Bhatia, neonatologist and chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ committee on nutrition. Therefore, a variety of fruits and vegetables will work well. If you’re an experienced gardener, try introducing sweet potatoes first, as this vegetable is rich in vitamins and is sweet like breast milk. Other mild vegetables also work well, like carrots, peas, green beans, squash – as well as pears and bananas. If you’re new to gardening, check out this list explaining the top 10 easiest fruits and vegetables to grow.

This month’s baby food recipe

As parents, all of us at Humble Seed are big believers in using the garden for our children –and we’d like to introduce a new baby food recipe each month. To kick off this endeavor, this is an easy recipe that’s packed full of protein (one cup of peas contains as much protein as a tablespoon of peanut butter!).

Peas and Carrots

(for babies 6 months+)

Ingredients

½ pound fresh carrots

½ pound peas

Method:

1. Wash vegetables thoroughly. Open the pea pods and scrape out the peas from the pod. Combine fresh peas and chopped carrots in a large pot.

2. Add enough filtered water to just cover the vegetables.

3. Cook until tender yet still colorful, drain water and reserve.

4. Puree vegetables in a blender or food processor.

5. Add the reserved water from the vegetables until mixture is of the desired consistency.

*Cooking tip: To get peas to puree smooth, try immediately plunging your hot peas into very cold water after they have cooked. This will stop the cooking process and will allow for smoother baby food.

Store in ice cube trays until ready to use.

About Us:

Humble Seed specializes in premium garden seed kits that are packaged and themed for convenience and ease. We are dedicated to providing the highest quality heirloom, non-GMO, non-hybrid, and organic seed varieties to those who choose to start from seed.

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Crockpot Cooking Tips For Fresh Vegetables and Herbs

February 6th, 2013

Looking for more ways to use your garden fresh vegetables and herbs this winter? The crockpot is one of the greatest time-saving appliances in your kitchen. While one of the best features of a crockpot is its simplicity (just flip a switch!), getting vegetables and herbs perfectly tender and flavorful in a one-pot wonder can be tricky. Read our tips to ensure your next crockpot meal shows off your garden’s bountiful harvest.

Crockpot Tips For Fresh Vegetables and Herbs

*Vegetables do not cook as quickly as meat. Therefore, place all vegetables at the bottom of the crockpot, which is nearest to the heat.

*Fill the crockpot halfway to 2/3 the way full. Overfilling the crockpot will not allow the contents to cook entirely, while not filling the crockpot enough will cook the contents too quickly.

*Adding plenty of liquid to the crockpot (ie: vegetable broth, water, juice) will allow vegetables to become tender and moist.

*Avoid the urge to lift the lid to stir or to “check on” your meal (we know it’s tough!). Lifting the lid, even only for a moment will only force heat to escape, which may affect the cooking time anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.

*Add tender vegetables that cook quickly at the end of the cooking period (we suggest the last 45 minutes to an hour). Vegetables that cook very quickly are tomatoes, squash varieties, and mushrooms.

*Try sautéing vegetables in olive oil, salt, and seasonings directly in the crockpot before you add the remaining ingredients. This will add more POW to your meal.

*Many dry herbs can be thrown in at any time, yet many fresh herbs should be added only at the end of the cooking period. Herbs like basil, cilantro, and parsley taste their best when stirred in last minute, just before serving. You can also try using half the herbs in the beginning of cooking, and using the remaining herbs at the end of cooking.

Ready to test these crockpot tips out? We offer many of the vegetables and herbs in this recipe in our Veggin’ Out and Uncle Herb’s Favorites seed kits. This slow cooker stew recipe is simply a cinch to make, and has many of the bright flavors associated with Mediterranean cooking.  Feel free to layer it on pasta, ravioli, rice or quinoa – or serve it as a rich stew all on its own. Is it me, or is it hard not to puff up your chest a bit when making a fabulous meal using a slow cooker?

Slow Cooker Mediterranean Stew

Serves 4-5

2 cups eggplant, diced with peel

1 yellow squash, diced with peel

1 small yellow onion, diced

¼  cup black olives, sliced

¼  cup golden raisons

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

½ cup vegetable broth

8-ounce can tomato sauce

½ teaspoon chopped cumin

¼  teaspoon turmeric

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon lemon zest

salt and pepper

2 tablespoons fresh parsley

olive oil for drizzling

Method: In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients except for the parsley and olive oil and stir until well mixed.  Cover, and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or until vegetables are tender. The last 30 minutes, add chopped parsley. Serve over pasta, ravioli, quinoa or rice.  Drizzle each plate with olive oil before serving.

 

About Us:

Humble Seed specializes in premium garden seed kits that are packaged and themed for convenience and ease.  We are dedicated to providing the highest quality heirloom, non-GMO, non-hybrid, and organic seed varieties to those who choose to start from seed.

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Baby It’s Cold Outside: What You Can Grow Indoors

January 5th, 2013

Baby it’s cold outside, but that doesn’t mean you have to deprive your inner gardener of fragrant herbs and fresh vegetables this winter. In well-insulated homes with temperatures kept above 60 degrees F., growing plants indoors can be an ideal environment for both young and mature plants.

Growing Herbs Indoors: Most herbs can grow very well indoors, and require minimal maintenance. Place herbs near a bright window, and ensure they do not come in direct contact with the window. If a sunny window this winter is hard to come by, your next best option is supplementing their sun exposure with grow lights.

The best herbs to grow indoors are perennial and do not require significant sunlight. These include flavorful herbs like chives, marjoram, oregano and rosemary. Herbs like basil, parsley, sage, and thyme grow well indoors, but keep in mind that they require strong sunlight to thrive.

Growing Vegetables Indoors: To successfully grow vegetables indoors, choose small vegetables that do not build lengthy root systems. Delicious varieties of beets, carrots, eggplants, peppers, radishes, and tomatoes all have relatively short root systems and will do well in a container next to a sunny window. Leaf lettuces like Bib and Boston are also quite easy to grow from seed indoors, using a small container.

While your herb garden may not require supplemental light, the shorter and darker days of winter may not provide vegetables with the 6-8 hours of sunlight required to survive. Using fluorescent lights that provides a full UV spectrum or grow lights can make all the difference. Ask your local garden center which lights will work best for your vegetable needs.

Tips For Growing Plants Indoors:

*Keeping a fan nearby can regulate plant temperature, and will help to properly circulate the air to prevent mildew and fungus from forming.

*You may need to water indoor plants a little more often, as winter heaters tend to keep soil pretty dry. Water plants when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch.

*Plants need darkness as well as sunlight in order to survive. Set a timer on your fluorescent lights, and don’t get overly ambitious about providing excessive supplemental sunlight.

*Add a time released fertilizer to plants as needed. Do some research on all of your plants, as different plants require varying amounts of fertilizer. Generally, plants that are growing rapidly will require more fertilizer than plants that are slow growing.

 

About Us:

Humble Seed specializes in premium garden seed kits that are packaged and themed for convenience and ease.  We are dedicated to providing the highest quality heirloom, non-GMO, non-hybrid, and organic seed varieties to those who choose to start from seed.

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The Most Frost Tolerant Plants In Your Garden

December 1st, 2012

Don’t wait until after the last frost to plant these vegetables that prefer cooler weather. These plants can take a little frost – and should be planted a month or more before your area’s last average frost. While most vegetables may perform better when started indoors, radishes, turnips, and lettuce germinate and grow rapidly, and are simple to sow directly into the ground. When they are finished growing in the spring, it’s easy to grow warm loving vegetables in their place. Be sure to follow spacing recommendations, and place them in a full sun location during the coolest months.

Broccoli – This nutrient packed plant loves cool weather, and will tolerate a day or two of frost or freezing weather. Plant this vegetable approximately a month prior to your area’s average last frost date. We carry the Di Cicco Italian variety in our Veggin’ Out and The Producer seed kits.

Carrots – These beta-carotene rich vegetables taste sweeter in cooler weather, but can be enjoyed in the spring, summer, and fall. Adding mulch over the roots to keep the soil from freezing can add even more vitality during the winter months. The Scarlet Nantes Carrot, featured in Veggin’ Out and The Producer has a reputation for abundant production.

Chives – These perennial herbs are incredibly weather tolerant, and can be harvested in the spring as leaves appear. Our Purly Chives offer a mild onion flavor, and can found in the Uncle Herb’s Favorites seed kit.

Collards – These hardy greens love cold weather, and can even tolerate a hard freeze. They also fair well in the warmer months, though- keep them out of extremely hot weather.

Lettuce – Green leafy vegetables like lettuce do quite well in cool weather, but need some protection from freezing weather. When gardeners take the time to plant a few seeds every week, a crop can become available on a continuous basis. Red lettuce varieties, like our Red Saladbowl can add beautiful color to your garden.

Peas – These cool season vegetables grow well on a fence or teepee, and under direct sunlight.

Radish – These cool weather-loving vegetables can be harvested as quickly as a month after seeds are planted. You may want to grow these smaller vegetables in containers to save space in your garden.

Spinach – Spinach is loved by gardeners for its low maintenance and cold tolerance. These plants perform better in areas with mild winters, and thrive in the shade during the summer months.

Swiss Chard – Our Fordhook Giant Swiss Chard is one of the most cold tolerant varieties around. This pretty leafy green tastes great raw, sautéed, or added to your favorite soup.

Learn how to protect plants that are not frost tolerant: Protecting Plants From Extreme Cold

**Friends, which frost tolerant plants do you have in your garden right now? How are they doing?

 

About Us:

Humble Seed specializes in premium garden seed kits that are packaged and themed for convenience and ease.  We are dedicated to providing the highest quality heirloom, non-GMO, non-hybrid, and organic seed varieties to those who choose to start from seed.

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Seed Saving 101

October 13th, 2012

Why save seeds?

When we think of the word “extinction,” a head of lettuce normally doesn’t pop up in our minds. It’s certain that our grocery stores aren’t full of endangered fruits and vegetables, either. But what about the prize-winning carrots you boasted last spring? Or your great-grandfather’s special heirloom tomatoes you remember eating every summer? If no one decides to save these seeds, the legacy of these plants will eventually die out.

What are some other reasons to save your own seeds?

Gardeners save a few seeds or every seed from their crop, sometimes for a specific purpose, or for other gardeners to enjoy.  Many do it simply because they liked the vegetables they grew last year, and want to grow them again. The fact that it saves money is also a wonderful positive.

If you decide to save seeds this year, there are some important ideas to learn and put into practice to ensure success.

Learn the overall quality of the parent plants. Specifically select seeds from the plants that grew quickly and with vigor.  A common mistake is to choose seeds randomly, and from mediocre plants. One major rule of thumb? Never save seeds from malformed fruit, or a fruit that has been damaged by insects, mold, or disease. Plants should be strong, healthy and not exposed to stressful conditions when early seed formation begins.

Learn how to effectively save seeds, and choose plants that are easiest for beginners. Beginner seed saving plants generally produce seed all in the same season, and are self-pollinating. Some plants to keep in mind are beans, lettuce, peas, peppers and tomatoes. If you’re new at this, choosing these types of plants will generally increase the likelihood of successful seed saving. Also, check out this full seed saving guide for beginners.

Learn the characteristics of healthy seeds. Start with healthy, sturdy seeds, and consider these characteristics:

1) Maturity and Size – The relative size and maturity of the seed will correlate to the survivability of the plant. Therefore, allow seeds to ripen to full maturity before they are harvested.  Keep in mind that large, mature seeds will have more food stored to nourish the seeds once they have sprouted, and will also produce strong seedlings.
2) Viability and Vigor: Find out the germination rate for your batch of seeds. This will determine the vigor in which seeds will sprout out of the soil under ideal conditions.

Learn how to care for plants during seed formation. Removing any diseased plants away from potential seed saving plants will increase the viability of the plant and its seed. Diseased plants can also spread pathogens to otherwise healthy plants, and can affect the success of succeeding generations as well.

During seed formation, be sure to provide the plant with sufficient moisture at flower time – this will promote pollen development and flower set.

Learn how to expand your garden once you’ve become more experienced.  Expand your garden by including plants that require separation to keep unwanted cross pollination at bay. These vegetables include: corn, cucumbers, muskmelon, radish, spinach, squash and pumpkins. Take a look at this helpful resource for more information.

**Friends, which plants are you saving seeds from this year?

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DIY Organic Fertilizers And The Benefits

May 23rd, 2012

If you’re looking for a fertilizer that maximizes your edible garden’s nutritional content, without the worry of harsh chemicals and synthesizers found in traditional fertilizers, perhaps making your own organic blend is a logical next step.  Similar to cooking, controlling the ingredients in your own natural fertilizer can be a healthier and safer alternative to what we see packaged in stores. Initially, a DIY fertilizer may remind you of a high school chemistry class, and seem somewhat daunting. Yet, a little motivation to get you started (from us) and some further research (from you) has the potential to turn even a neophyte gardener into a fertilizer-blending dynamo! To get you started…

The Commercial Fertilizer Dilemma:  Common chemical fertilizers like Ammonium Sulphate, Potassium Chloride, and Potash are non-synthetic (and not harmful to health), and directly supply the amount of Nitrogen and Potassium needed for plant vitality. However, these fertilizers purchased at your local gardening store are not only costly, but can eventually damage the soil’s physical, biological and chemical structure.  Studies have shown that consistent and long-term use of chemical fertilizers change the soil’s alkalinity, salinity and sodium levels, while eventually depleting your plant’s root systems of oxygen.  While synthetic fertilizers have the potential to infiltrate food and ultimately harm our health.

Furthermore, from an environmental perspective, chemical and synthetic fertilizers pose a real threat to the Mama Earth. There is growing concern that chemicals found in fertilizers coupled with excess run-off continues to damage natural eco-systems, lakes, rivers and oceans.  It has become increasingly clear that long-term use has consequences not only for our home gardens, but on a larger scale as well.

A Few Rules Of Thumb: Before you begin, it is important to consider which blends will work best for your plants, and what is locally available to purchase.  Many ingredients can be found at your local gardening center, and some may have to be purchased online.  With a little research, you’ll become more familiar with both of these concepts. Also, keep in mind that a good fertilizer may only need to be applied once a year, ideally before you plant your first Spring crop.  Generally, blending the fertilizer in with the soil before you plant works well.  Therefore, be sure to mix the right amount for your own garden’s needs, and store the rest in an airtight container.

Ingredients To Consider:

*Seed meals are byproducts of vegetable oil and animal feeds. They contain highly nutritious seeds like flaxseeds, soybeans, cotton seeds and sunflower seeds.  They are prized for their high Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium content.

*Heavy Nitrogen blends have natural amino acids and can yield vibrantly large vegetables, as Nitrogen is wonderful for the growth process.

*Adding ocean products like Kelp Meal can be quite beneficial for heavy feeders like squash, tomatoes, corn, broccoli and cabbage.

*Using rock phosphate has high doses of Phosphorous, which will provide vigorous growth for edible plants and flowers.

*Gypsum is a wonderful source for Calcium, and will not raise the soil’s Ph levels.

*Dolomite has a neutral Ph, and is a prized source of Calcium and Magnesium.

*Rock dusts are blends of several different types of rocks, and can revitalize over worked soil.

*Green Sand is harvested from the ocean, and is a natural source of Iron, Magnesium, Silica and minerals.

*Adding Lime with its Calcium and Magnesium will add strength to your garden. It can also raise Ph levels in the soil if needed.

Sample Fertilizer Recipe (1:5:2)

4 parts seed meal

2 parts Gypsum

1 part Rock Phosphate

1 part Green Sand

1 part Dolomite Lime

Method: Mix all ingredients well.

Would you consider making your own organic fertilizer? What is your favorite blend?

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A Heart-y Holiday Menu

November 23rd, 2011

Looking for a non-traditional entrée or a side dish that will wow your guests over the holiday? Try these delicious yet heart healthy dishes that will certainly break up the monotony at your dinner table! The winter holidays arrive only once a year; making it unlikely that one or two high calorie meals will tip the scale.  But healthy eating as a lifestyle is really about the big picture of what you choose to put in your body.  Replacing heavy creams and fatty meats with fresh vegetables, herbs, nuts and lentils are just a few ways to transition a holiday meal while still making it taste flavorful and satisfying. For more pictures, information, and recipe ideas go to Happygoluckyvegan.blogspot.com.

Holiday Lentil Walnut Loaf

An exceptionally delicious entrée for vegetarians, and for those wanting to serve a unique dish on the holidays. Use fresh herbs and vegetables. This recipe can be made gluten-free.
(6-8 servings)

1 cup dry green lentils
3 tablespoons ground flax seed
½ cup warm water
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced finely or grated
1 celery stick, diced finely
1 small apple, grated
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped
¼ teaspoon Herbes de Provence
¾ cup chopped walnuts, toasted
½ cup whole wheat flour (or oat flour to make this gluten-free)
¾ cup leftover stuffing (or breadcrumbs)

Method: In a medium- sized pot, add 1 cup of dry green lentils to 3 cups of water.  Allow lentils to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes, or until lentils are tender.  Strain lentils, and process 75% of the lentils in a food processor or blender. Add the processed lentils to the whole lentils in a large bowl.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat a large pan to medium-high heat and add olive oil.  Combine onions, garlic and a pinch of salt, and allow the onions to sweat.  Add carrots, another pinch of salt, and sauté for 2-3 minutes.  Add the celery and the apple, and mix in your fresh and dry herbs. Allow flavors to combine for 2-3 minutes.  Let it to cool slightly, and combine the onion mixture with the lentils.

Make flax egg by combining the ground flax seed and warm water in a small bowl. Allow mixture to thicken for 5 minutes. Combine the flax egg, walnuts, flour, and leftover stuffing with the lentil mixture.  Knead the loaf with hands until it is moist and all ingredients are mixed well together.  Form into a large loaf and place into a well-greased loaf pan or casserole dish. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes. Use your favorite barbecue or tomato sauce to glaze the loaf.

 

Cauliflower with Curry Butter

This non-traditional cauliflower dish is incredibly flavorful, and full of spices rich with anti-inflammatory properties.  Although, your guests will not be concentrating on the latter as they go back for seconds! Use fresh cauliflower:

(6-8 servings)

3 pounds cauliflower
4 tablespoons Earth Balance, or other vegan butter
½ teaspoon turmeric
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon black pepper
⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, finely minced
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon lime juice
salt

Method: Using a paring knife, cut cauliflower into small florets. This should yield 8 cups of cauliflower. Heat a large pot of salted purified water to high. In batches, stir in cauliflower once the water reaches boil. Allow the cauliflower to simmer for 4-5 minutes, or until tender.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the cauliflower and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter and combine turmeric, cayenne pepper, black pepper, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.  Once all ingredients are incorporated, drizzle the butter sauce onto the cauliflower while mixing.  Stir in cilantro and lime juice.  Add additional salt and pepper if needed. Garnish with additional cilantro and serve warm.

Homemade Herbed Stuffing

A vegetarian-stuffing full of flavorful herbs, this recipe can be made gluten-free.
(6-8 servings)

1 loaf of bread (brown rice, whole wheat, multi-grain), torn into small pieces
olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
½ cup parsley, minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
1 teaspoon fresh sage, minced
salt and pepper
2-3 cups vegetable stock

Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast bread cubes in the oven or toaster until golden brown.  In a large saucepan, combine olive oil, garlic, onions, and a pinch of salt and sauté until onions have sweat.  Add the celery, another pinch of salt, and cook until celery is tender (about 4-5 minutes).  Allow the celery mixture to cool, then using a rubber spatula, add the celery mixture to the bread crumbs. Add the fresh herbs and additional salt and pepper to taste to the bowl.

Slowly pour the vegetable stock in, as some bread absorb better than others. The bread should be evenly coated, moist and clumping together.  It should not be soggy or drowning in stock.  Pour bread mixture into a large casserole dish, and drizzle a little olive oil on top.  Cover with foil, and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the tin foil after 25 minutes, and bake an additional 10 minutes for a crispier top.  Serve warm and with vegetarian gravy.

Savory Green Beans and Roasted Tomatoes

A simple yet satisfying dish with heart healthy green beans and cherry tomatoes.

(6-8 servings)

2 pounds of green beans, ends trimmed

1 carton of cherry tomatoes (about 10 tomatoes)

1/2-teaspoon cumin

1/2-teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4-teaspoon ground cloves

Salt

Pepper

Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  On a lightly greased cookie sheet, place tomatoes on sheet and lightly salt and pepper them. Bake tomatoes for about 50 minutes, or until no longer firm   Boil 1 inch of water in a deep skillet.  Add green beans and allow water to boil again.  Place cover on beans, and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Simmer until beans are tender, but still a little crisp.

Remove beans and add seasonings. Toss green beans evenly, and add salt and pepper to taste.  Place roasted tomatoes on top.

 

What’s your favorite holiday dish?

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